By David Jackson, BCM/D Missionary for Church Multiplication
This past weekend brought the tragic news of Michael Jackson’s sudden and untimely death. Like many others from my generation, his music impacted my life. One of the songs that made a marked impression upon me personally was the song “Man in the Mirror.” In that song, which went to number one on the pop music charts in March of 1988, Jackson wrote,
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
In the past few days, we have had three church planting candidates come through our church planting assessment process. This is an opportunity for us as a partnering entity to get to know them and look for evidence of calling, character and competency for church planting in their lives. For the candidates, it is an opportunity for self-discovery, confirmation and clarification in atheir life regarding their future in church planting.
Why is this so important?
I had been a church planter for about two years and, by all accounts, we were off to a great start. The church was growing and lost people were being reached with the Gospel. But one Monday morning as I reflected upon where our new church was “at,” God revealed to me a startling discovery: this new church plant had become a “mirror-image” of me! My values had become their values, my lifestyle had become their lifestyle, and so on. I remember shuddering at the responsibility and significance of the example of my life daily before them. “The Man in the Mirror” had come to stay.
Three years ago I had the privilege of serving as the interim pastor at Montrose Church in Rockville, Md. That same year, at their Christian school’s commencement the speaker made one of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard at such as event. “You teach what you know,” he said, “but you reproduce who you are.”
How right he is! My research and observation since that personal “light bulb” church planting experience has confirmed that this reality takes place over and over and over again in the life of church planters (and to some degree, in all churches where a pastor has a longer tenure, but that’s another story for another day). It is a telling reminder that who we are impacts what others become. Paul understood this and that’s why he is able to say, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
This is why assessment for our church planters is so important. By helping us and planters “see” better who they are, all of us will understand what that church will one day likely become, as well. As a result, it helps all of us plan intentionally to stay healthy, spiritually as well as physically, and to nurture others as we ourselves are nurtured and coached to the extent of our God-given potential.
So the next time you stop and look at the “man in the mirror,” ask yourself this…is what I see reflected back to me the same thing I want to see in the lives of those whom I lead? And if not, what are you going to do about it?
David Jackson is the Missionary for Church Multiplication with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. He can be reached at (800) 466-5290, extension 225 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.